All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

352

Guy Klucevsek: The Well-Tampered Accordion

By

Sign in to view read count
I got one of my first impressions of the social status of the accordion from an article that appeared twenty or so years ago in Time magazine. The writer decried'—in laughable terms'—the "menace'? of the instrument, the sound of which he found abhorrent, given all its usual associations with the (underrated) genre of the polka. I can't remember many of the details of the piece, other than a vague sense that it was probably a response to the accordion's contemporaneous appearance in a number of popular recordings.

Anyone who has ever heard Guy Klucevsek would know that the fellow from Time didn't know what he was missing; and it is particularly unfortunate that Klucevsek's latest recording, The Well-Tampered Accordion , would have been completely over his head. The album is a collection of mostly miniatures, mostly penned by the accordionist, mostly gathered in suites, mostly characterized by an uncanny "old world charm.'? All of it is unaccompanied accordion, thus highlighting the instrument's seemingly limitless capacity to express a mood of mournful solitude (a capacity that to my ears is rivaled only by the harmonica).

Like its baroque namesake, The Well-Tampered Accordion is a compendium of the possibilities that a gifted artist can pull out of a single instrument. There are jigs and reels ("Sicilians in New Orleans'? and "Ebony Mandolin'? are exemplary), a few ballads (several of which can be found in the opening suite, "Four Portraits'?), and even a short burst of what might be called "minimalist program music'? (the hypnotic "Rocking the Boat'?). And then there are the covers. Apparently at the urging of John Zorn (whose own turn toward "old world charm'? has produced essential recordings like Bar Kokhba ), Klucevsek was induced to arrange two Burt Bacharach warhorses, "One Less Bell to Answer'? and "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.'?

Of course, I use the word "covers'? very loosely here, since the tunes are more or less unrecognizable unless you know you're supposed to be looking for them ("Bell,'? for instance, becomes an eerie foray in to the squeezebox's uppermost registers; who knew it could go that high?). This portion of the album, then, demonstrates what is surely one of the main insights of jazz: composition is always re-composition.

In short, and at the risk of sounding (unintentionally) ironic: this is simply one of the best all-accordion albums I've ever heard.


Track Listing: Four Portraits: 1. Clarissa (Mrs. Dalloway) 2. Blues for Richard 3. Laura (Mrs. Brown) 4. Virginia (Mrs. Woolf) Accordion Misdemeanors: 5. Sicilians in New Orleans 6. Acadians in Maine 7. Germans in the Midwest 8. Acadians in Louisiana 9. Mexicans in Texas 10. Lament for the Accordion Maker 11. Basques in Montana 12. Poles in Chicago 13. Epilogue (Road Music) 14. One Less Bell to Answer 15. Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My (Wives and Lovers) Head The Well-Tampered Accordion: 16. No. 1: Shape-Shifter 17. No. 2: Ebony Mandolin 18. No. 3: Rocking the Boat 19. No. 4: Collapsible Hornpipe 20. No. 5: Time Passing 21. No. 6: Hungarian Hummingbird 22. No. 7: Sunday Morning - Eight Legs (after Lucien Freud) 23. No. 8: AOK Chorale 24. No. 9: Pink Elephant 25. No. 10: Song of the Little Prince (for Teiji Ito) 26. No. 11: Dance! 27. No. 12: Epilogue/Fantasy (in memoriam Brian Rehr)

Personnel: Guy Kulcevsek, accordion

Title: The Well-Tampered Accordion | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Winter & Winter

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles

Related Articles

Read Jazz Tango CD/LP/Track Review
Jazz Tango
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 18, 2018
Read The Berlin Concert CD/LP/Track Review
The Berlin Concert
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 18, 2018
Read IMA IMA CD/LP/Track Review
IMA IMA
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 18, 2018
Read Breathe CD/LP/Track Review
Breathe
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 18, 2018
Read Good Music CD/LP/Track Review
Good Music
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: June 18, 2018
Read Stillness & Sirens CD/LP/Track Review
Stillness & Sirens
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 17, 2018
Read "Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends" CD/LP/Track Review Albert Mangelsdorff And His Friends
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 16, 2017
Read "Quinsin Nachoff's Ethereal Trio" CD/LP/Track Review Quinsin Nachoff's Ethereal Trio
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 19, 2017
Read "Beauty & Mystery" CD/LP/Track Review Beauty & Mystery
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: February 16, 2018
Read "Where Fortune Smiles" CD/LP/Track Review Where Fortune Smiles
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 13, 2017
Read "Aspiration" CD/LP/Track Review Aspiration
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 5, 2017
Read "Radio Omnibus" CD/LP/Track Review Radio Omnibus
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: June 5, 2018